Mac TA extends lead with win over Ramat Hasharon

Atar’s 21st goal gives yellow-and-blue 1-0 victory in 68th minute; set to take championship.

MACCABI TEL AVIV striker Eliran Atar 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
MACCABI TEL AVIV striker Eliran Atar 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Eliran Atar’s 21st goal of the season gave Maccabi Tel Aviv its fifth win in a row on Saturday night, a 1-0 victory over Hapoel Ramat Hasharon at Bloomfield Stadium which extended its lead at the top of the Premier League standings to 11 points.
Maccabi Haifa can close back to within eight points of first place with a win over Beitar Jerusalem at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Sunday, but it seems that nothing is going to stop Tel Aviv’s charge to the championship.
The yellow-and-blue wasn’t at its best on Saturday, but Atar’s 68thminute goal gave it all three points for the 11th time in 12 home matches to keep it on course for a first league title since 2003.
“We knew before the match that Ramat Hasharon defend very well and they did that today,” said Maccabi coach Oscar Garcia. “In the last part of the season all the teams play for their objectives and its normal that matches will be difficult and that we have to work hard to win games. Luckily for us, Eliran scored today.”
Freddy David’s tenure as Hapoel Tel Aviv coach got off to a winning start on Saturday, with the Reds beating Hapoel Beersheba 2-1 on the road for their first victory in six matches.
Tel Aviv picked up just a single point from its previous five encounters and fired coach Yossi Abuksis after last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Ironi Kiryat Shmona.
The Reds didn’t show much of an improvement under David on Saturday, but claimed all three points thanks to a fortuitous own goal and a contentious decision by referee Eitan Shmuelevitch.
Tel Aviv took the lead in the 12th minute through an Oded Gavish own goal, but Dovev Gabai would equalize for the hosts in the 70th minute.
However, Shmuelevitch gifted the visitors a penalty seven minutes later, being fooled by an Omer Damari dive, and the striker slotted in the winner from the spot.
“The players showed character and they deserve every credit,” said David, who was only given a contract until the end of the season. “It is a privilege to coach Hapoel. This is a massive club and you don’t say no to Hapoel.”
Only a single point separates four of the league’s five bottom teams after both Hapoel Ramat Gan and Hapoel Haifa claimed their second straight wins on Saturday.
Ramat Gan beat the sorry Ashdod SC 3-2 on the road thanks to goals from Israel Zaguri (45), Michael Zandberg (47) and Omer Buksenboim (74), with Dimitar Makriev (52) and Nir Biton (83) scoring for Ashdod, which has won just one of its past 13 matches.
Ramat Gan moved tied on 25 points with Maccabi Netanya and Bnei Sakhnin, which face each other on Sunday.
Hapoel Haifa remained in the relegation zone on Saturday, but is just a single point from safety after defeating rock-bottom Hapoel Acre 3-1 on the road.
An Edi Gotlieb own-goal gave Haifa a second-minute lead, but Branislav Jovanovic equalized for the hosts just eight minutes later.
However, in-form Vladimir Gluscevic (26) scored his third goal in a week to put Haifa back in front and another Acre own goal, this time by Srde Knezevic (39), ended the hosts’ hopes.
Also Saturday, Ironi Kiryat Shmona took a significant step towards securing a place in the championship playoffs, beating Bnei Yehuda 2-0 courtesy of a Dan Eibinder brace (21, 53).